On the 25th November, Kaleido was invited to attend, Listen Up Australia: Grand Final at Selina’s in the Coogee Bay Hotel.

This year’s theme was, ‘Time to Talk’ and the event proudly supported Suicide Prevention Australia. The 10 grand finalists were asked to showcase each of their songs in front of a live audience and a judging panel made up of experts within the music industry, including Alphamama, Alfie Arcuri, Cam Nacson, David Gugliotta, Jesabel, Rai Thistlethwayte, Sammi Constantine, Sarah Belkner and Tamika Jai.

We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but were awestruck by the talent that hit the stage. It was a night filled with lots of emotion, talent, passion, tears, rounds of applause and a very impressive set of young finalists.IMG_4987

Brendan Maclean was up first with a song called, ‘Overflow’. Using this event to move beyond his usual narrative, he sang about the relationships we have with our parents and how that changes as we get older. With an engrossing narrative that came to a climactic end, the standard was set for the rest of the evening.

Chelsea Warner was up next with her song called, ‘Toxicity’. With her beautiful vocals she sang about the adolescent experience of getting lost in your mind when you are trying to define yourself and being alienated in doing so.

Chris Neto followed with his song, ‘Let’s Talk About It’. Writing from his own personal experiences and from talking to his friends and doing some research, he sang about being in a depressed state of mind but choosing to look at it in a positive light. With lyrics like:

‘They say silence
In the face of evil is compliance.’
‘If emotions bottled up in you
Know that hope remains beyond the ruin.’

Emma Gekas was the fourth performer of the night, with what the judges referred to as the only pop song at the point in the event. With her song, ‘Big Mistake’, she sang about her journey towards self-belief, realising that she is worth more than the thoughts she felt completely consumed by and knowing she is strong enough to get through it all.

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Pascoe was the next to get on stage, with Sam on guitar. She sang a song called, ‘Until I Lose My Mind’, she sang about sitting finally sitting down to a conversation with your dark clouds and demons and hashing it out. She blew the judges away and left them lost for words, that feeling was mutual, with the audience.

SÉB MONT was up next with his song called, ‘False Hope’. Throughout his life he has been bullied and his overall intention for his performance was to get listeners to become more open and accepting of each other and themselves. He wants people from all walks of life to come to his shows and enjoy his music, and most importantly he wants people to feel comfortable being who they are and not feeling as though they must fit in or standardise themselves. He was vulnerable and wore his heart on his sleeve, showing a level of maturity that is beyond his years, with an emotional performance that brought everyone in that room to tears.

Tyller Fischer was next on stage with her song titled, ‘The Battle Inside’. This was the first song that she wrote when she was in hospital, coming close to death as she battled anorexia nervosa. She sang about her struggle with mental illness and it helped her to understand what she was feeling and fight the battle rather than be consumed by it. Judge Sammi Constantine was so moved by the song and the performance she went on stage to give Tyller a hug, as she too has battled through anorexia and could relate to the song.

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Zeadala was the final performer of the night with her hip hop/rap song titled, ‘Anna’s Song’. She was inspired by a book called, ‘Letters to my little sister’ by Jennifer Kanthan about all the things she wished she had told her younger sister Anna before she sadly took her own life. Zeadala sang about the importance of imparting such insights to young people while encouraging them to see their greatness.

With nine judges, the deliberation went on for almost an hour, with the results finally announced – runner up Tyller Fischer and overall winner SÉB MONT.

We were treated to another performance of ‘False Hope.’ It was an amazing night, one that hopefully sparked the right conversations. If you want to listen to the 10 finalists, check out the album on Spotify Listen Up Australia: Vol 2 also available on iTunes.